William O. Huske Lock and Dam #3

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Long story short, I got into a pretty serious car accident, totaled my ’04 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and ended up with a concussion that was worsened by being active afterwards. So Dan and I haven’t fished in a good few weeks. Well, this morning, I was feeling good (finally a day without a headache), and decided to do some research on carping in the area.

We were huge into carping (as anyone who has read any of our previous Korea posts) when we lived in Korea, but not once we moved back to the states. Sure, we gave it the ole college try a few times, cane poles in tow, but hung it up in favor of sport bass and multi species.

That is until today. Scouring the bowls of fisherman forums led me to the beautiful William O. Huske Lock and Dam #3, between Fayetteville and Tarheel, North Carolina. Off NC-87, down a well padded down gravel road, we were greeted with a slew of picnic tables and benches, and overhead cover areas. The parking was spacious and the area consisted of the large dam itself, and a very well kept boat launch. Stone breakers lined next to the dam on the left of the launch, and on the right, a slight hill of mud and rocks.

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Unfortunately, when we first arrived, there was a good amount of people there with poles just lined up all along the landing. We sort of awkwardly scoot ourselves just to the right of the boat launch, looking around for some real estate, when the fellow upon the small hill picked up and left. We didn’t skip a beat in grabbing his spot.

Carp angling isn’t the most popular type of fishing around (though more popular in NC than other areas in the U.S.), and especially not wild carp. There’s a bunch of pay-lakes within an hour or two of Fayetteville, but we’ve never delved. Anyways, due to this, the types of bait we used to use in Korea (The powder we’d mix into doughs) is a little tougher to come by so we did what good angler do and we improvised the shit out of it.

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A quick “How-to” for making effective carp bait with simple household ingredients! We took Betty Crocker insta-mashed potatoes, Wonderbread Hot dog bungs (torn into pieces), and Quaker Oats minute oatmeal, and tossed it into a bowl, mixed with water. The result was a paste of similar consistency with your run-of-the-mill carp bait.

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It was a little too sticky with the first few casts, so we added extra water. With this concoction, we made fist-sized dough balls to throw onto our method feeders. We also forgot napkins, so had to skip on over to the shore to rinse our hands every time.

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Our method feeders were tied to these pre-tied carp hair rigs from Korda that came with a size 6 wide gap hook. On the loop, we threaded fake corn.

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Brand was Enterprise Tackle. Slung these bad boys in a little past the … not sure what they were… stilling basins? The big structures in front of the actual sluice gates on the dam. We set our poles on our Rod Pod, which has light and sound indicators for when the drag begins to pull. Our drags are set pretty low for this, both reels with a bait runner setting.

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Then the waiting game begun. It was a beautiful, but blazing hot North Carolina day. We were lucky to have a little bit of shade from the nearby trees. We brought our lawn chairs, so sat and chatted about life. About an hour after arriving, we still didn’t have any action.

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I had brought a regular medium-action rod to fool around with in the mean time, just to pass some time. At this point I had sat back down with Dan and he was getting a little grumpy. After all, I’d dragged him 45 minutes away on a 100-degree day to a landing untested… and we weren’t catching shit. He cast his doubts with his usual line, “so, when do you want to leave? I’m so hot. I’m getting bit.”

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And I said, “Damn, I just want that thing to go off and start beeping like crazy.” And no kidding, a minute after I said that, the rod pod started going berserk on one of the lines. Dan jumped into action, reeling wildly to get that baby and and man, it felt huge. Sadly, whatever monster lurked below spat out our fake corn and carried on with his life. It was a disappointment, but it was also a signal: there are fish here, and they’re biting our weird mixture of household foods. It wasn’t too long after recasting with a fresh “dough ball” that it went off again.

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Dan pulled up the first golden bonefish of our outing. An absolute textbook common carp. We were a little too excited and forgot to weight him, but he was fairly good sized, I’d estimate in the 8-10lb range. This guy was hooked perfectly too. The purpose of the fake corn being on the hair rig, slightly below the hook is because carp suck in and blow out when feeding. So they suck in the fake corn, and when they blow it back out, the hook gets caught right on their lip. He pulled this beauty in better this time, angling the rod against the direction of swim. Landing was a little difficult because we forgot our landing net and were on a bit of a ledge. Nevertheless… it was on. Baited the line back up, and casted into a similar area. The zone they seemed to be swimming in was fairly shallow (I would estimate less than 8 feet) under a tree that was rooted in shallow waters.

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This time I had the honors. This was a brutal fight and the adrenaline was shooting through my veins. At one point, the carp began swimming toward me, and I lowered the line in disappointment, declaring, “I lost the fish!” Low and behold, when reeling back in, I realized the thing was still attached. I had to move onto the boat launch to land this bone, and when he came up, he was still fighting. He weight in at 9lb 6oz, now my personal best catch. Pretty happy about this one, and another textbook, gorgeous common carp.

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Dan brought in the last one on a line I had cast out fairly shallow right in front of the stilling basin. He didn’t want to weigh it because “it looked smaller than the last one,” but still a stunning koi. All were released to swim another day, and we packed it up because our dogs were at home waiting. Pretty incredible day of angling for a couple hours at the lock and dam, and we are absolutely back into carp fishing, with a vengeance. It’s good to be back!

 

Inline Bowline Knot

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Use: Makes a fixed loop that can be used for a multitude of tiedowns; attaching one rope to another, securing equipment to fixed points, sailing knots. Tension will not move the knot. However it is not often used in mountaineering due to the fact that you can indeed untie the knot with ease.

Step 1: Create a Loop

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Fold the “loose” end of the rope over itself, as to create a loop with the free end remaining on top. Dig the hole.

Step 2: Through the Loop

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Next, create a larger loop by moving the loose end under and up through the previous loop.  The rabbit comes out of the hole.

Note: This larger loop you have just created is what you will use to secure the inline bowline around an object. If you wish to tie it TO something, thread the loose end through the object you wish to secure it to, before bringing it back through the previous loop.

 

Step 3: Around the Running End

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Take the free end, and thread it behind the running end. The Rabbit goes around the Tree

 

Step 4: Weave Back Through The Loop

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Come back over the running end with the free end, and push the free end through the initial loop. The Rabbit goes back into the hole. 

 

Step 5: Pull Tight

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Pull it tight to finish off your inline bowline! If done successfully, the knot should not become larger or smaller with tension on the loop (unlike a slipknot).

Too easy! Check out our other knots in our step by step survival knots series.

 

Dad’s First Ice Fish!

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For my last day in New England before the journey back the South, I decided to go back to the ole’ honey hole, Dennis Pond, to ensure at least a few fish. My father had been coming with me for the past couple trips, and had yet to pull anything.

We drilled 7 holes, two rows of three and one in the middle. I decided to try my luck at the tip-up dad had given me for Christmakkah and fitted it with about 12ft of monofil 4lb test line, a small spoon/treble and a dead minnow. The plan was to set the tip-up in the middle hole, and jig with our small 1.5″ spoons and some mousses in the surrounding holes to attract fish.

Within ten minutes we had a flag up!

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It was a little chain pickerel.

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Back he went. Felt pretty successful to have my first tip-up catch! So Dad was enthused by this and insisted I set him up his own, which I went ahead and did. In the meantime, I picked a hole adjacent to the one I had the tip up in and jigged the bottom with a couple of mousses. Decided to pound the bottom and see what would come along.

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Plucked up this fat little perch! Did not even realize they had perch in this lake– it’s truly a great multispecies destination. So far we have turned up pickerel, perch, bass, and crappie all from the ice.

In the mean time, Dad was still struggling to turn up a catch. I drilled a new hole adjacent to the one I jigged up the perch in  and we moved his tip-up there.

In the midst of all this, we were freezing. The weather took a plummet this week in CT, and was about 5-degrees, -12 with wind chill. Long underwear, based layers, insulation layers, down jackets, multiple socks — still the cold was piercing through us. We made a smart decision today that I suggest anyone hitting the ice do: we put warmers on the tops and bottoms of our feet between the two sock layers. It just keeps your toes from getting to the falling off point.

Dad was jigging a few holes away when suddenly his tip-up’s flag sprung up and was spinning wildly!

“Fish on!” I shouted toward Dad who gave me a blank stare in return, “Fish on! Fish on!”

He finally seemed to come to his senses when I up and ran to the flag, pointing at it, hoping the fish didn’t tear through the 4lb test line barely holding it on.

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Dad makes his way to the hole and starts reeling on the spool.

“Hand over hand!” I was doing some serious back seat fishing by this point. But, it’s really easy for the fish to get away without proper finesse when you’re using such thin line. He finally drops the tip up, and begins to bring it in, hand over hand, letting the line slide with tension through his fingers when the fish swam.

The fish was tiring out, and it felt pretty good sized. Finally it surfaced!

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Out came a beautiful large mouth bass. Didn’t have the scale on us, but I would eye it at a little over 1lb.

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Released for another day, but not before a bunch of pictures, hugs and high fives. Dad finally caught a fish through the ice!

With that, concluded our last ice fishing trip, and my vacation in the North. Back to the South tomorrow, got a long drive ahead. Gonna miss hitting the ice!

Ice Hunting

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Woke up to some freezing temps, and a layer of snow in Connecticut. Being early in the winter season, not all bodies of water are locked up yet, and some are thicker than others. I decided to take measurements into my own hands, and head out to see if I could find my own “honey pot.”

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Of course I brought my partner with me, who was very excited to experience her first real snow. First stop, a small lake on Gulf Road, across from Soapstone Mountain access lot.

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To measure the ice, I dig a hole with my auger ever ten steps, then scoop out the slush. I place my tip-up spool at the bottom of the ice, and measure up. The spool begins on the 15″ mark, so I just count from there.  Unfortunately, freezing rain put about an inch of water over the ice and it was incredibly uneven. Didn’t have much luck here.

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So we moved onto Hurd’s Lake which was shrouded in an incredible and blinding fog. Again, it was layered in rainwater, so I stayed fairly close to the edge. If you look at the picture, it actually looks like open water, but it wasn’t. There was a good 4-inches of ice locked up beneath the slushy top. Again, though, no luck here.

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Finally, just by nature of wanted to catch a fish after skunking at all those different lakes, I just headed to my old favorite honey pot, Dennis Pond. The pond itself was covered in snow, without any sign of human tracks on it. Made a trail of holes 10 feet apart out toward the middle, and two rows of two holes across. Ice was easily 3.5-inches in all the spots I tested.

I began jigging with 2-lb test line and little red wigglers.

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Brook was excited by all the snow and ice and just being outside in general, so naturally, she completely went berserk, getting a huge case of the zoomies. She ran around like a wild animal all over the ice, much to my disdain, because the ice was untested. She ended up with her two hind legs in a hole and I had to put her in time out in the car to thaw out the rest of the time.

But in the mean time, I did manage to pull out a chain pickerel from one of the holes, successfully ending my skunk streak.

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Had to pack up the rods and reels and head home after the sun went down and my feet turned into popsicles. Hoping to find another honey pot in the future, still searching!

Figure Eight (Flemish) Knot

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Use: Stoppage (similar to an overhand knot), often used in sailing on the mast, the base of the climber’s knot (double figure-8 knot), anchoring, etc.

 

Step 1: Create a “Bight”

20171126_174315Simply fold the rope over itself, leaving a loop, without crossing the rope.

 

Step 2: Over, then Under

20171126_174329Using the free end, weave the end over the long end, and back under to the same side you began, creating a loop.

 

Step 3: Through the Loop

20171126_174337Using the free end again, weave the rope over and down into the loop you created

 

Step 4: Pull and Tighten

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Simply pull both ends of the rope to tighten into a figure eight knot. If you have done each step successfully, your knot should resemble the number 8.

Too easy! Check out our other knots in our step by step survival knots series.

Dennis Pond

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Ice season is here and we are up North for the holidays!

Finally, after a long year of waiting, the ground is covered in snow, and the lakes thick with a layer of ice!

Well… not that thick. Sadly, the last week was freezing cold (twenties and below), but this upcoming week the winter weather has taken a turn for the warmer. The ice is slipping away beneath our feet (all 3.5 inches of it).

At least we were able to get in some lines before the melting began. We stopped by an old favorite, Dennis Pond, to do some jigging.

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Passed a couple of wild turkeys on the way. Always nice to see the local wildlife.

20171217_151102Scenery was breathtaking as usual. Drilled about 6 holes (one every 10-feet, laterally and outward). Got to about 10-ft depth, but the ice was not exactly the safest. At about 3.5 inches at most going toward the center, we did not venture too far out. Water temperature was about 34-degrees F at the surface beneath the ice.

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We used standard jigging techniques, with little red wigglers as bait, and small spoons for lure.

Caught a few little chain pickerel which are always a fun catch. It was pretty cold out though, as you may be able to tell by Dan’s ski coat and 7 pairs of pants.

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Things were getting slushy, quick, though. Our feet were wet and frozen, but between the snowy scenery and continuous action on our ice rods, we stuck around and  sucked it up.

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Patience is a virtue, however! I was finally able to pull a decent sized large mouth.

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Dan was on fire with the pickerel game too.

Overall, a fun day on the ice. Excited to get back to it once temperatures go down next week. Dennis pond is a perfect ice fishing pond!

Tank Creek

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Instead of searching far and wide for fun new fishing spots, this time we got local.

We found a creek less than two miles away from our home, and decided to give it a go. Admittedly, it wasn’t the most aesthetic of locations and definitely did not have the upkeep of public ponds or national/state forest areas, there was something a little enchanting about a little semi-stagnant pool we found beneath a small dam.

The way the water swirled into its soft current seemed promising.

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And we were not disappointed. This little bass infested pool in Tank Creek provided a fun opportunity for us to experiment with different lures and techniques.

The most successful seemed to be a version of the slow pitch jig using soft plastics like the Zoom U Tail in June Bug or the Zoom Lizard in Chartreuse/Pumpkinseed (6″).

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Unfortunately, the creek was relatively close to the road so Brook did not have the luxury to roam like at Kiest.

Through trail and error, we managed to toss our casts softly under bushes and small rock bunches which produced some of our best bass catches yet.

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We also utilized use of 6″ Yamamoto senkos in various colors. We always used a off-set hook, a texas rig (since the creek is full of snags), completely weightless. The creek was small enough that we did not need any additional weight for casting strength.

Who knew that such a small space held such nice fish!

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We came back to this area since it was so close a couple times and continued to have relatively good success. The small pool combined with it being not fished often seemed to push our luck.

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However, due to the nature of North Carolina’s thick woods, we did sacrifice many lures to the fishing gods in trees and even worse, to snapping turtles.

Sadly as the months grew colder, the bites came less and less, but we did discover a large gill population.

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A fun discovery close to home that allowed us to practice a myriad of techniques and baits in a confined area. It was nice to find a “training pool” so to speak!

Upside Down Fire

The upside down fire is a self feeding fire that does not require nearly as much stoking and feeding as the traditional teepee campfire. It can burn upwards of 5 hours, uninterrupted, if you do it right. Here are the steps you need to create the upside down fire, along with Dan and I’s own attempt to build it.

Essential Tools:

  • Fire starter (lighter, matches, magnesium stick, etc)
  • Twigs
  • Tinder (Manmade or natural)
  • Knife/ax/saw or some sort of sharp for collecting materials
  • If you are cooking, a vessel or surface to hold your food in

 

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Step 1: Collect your Materials

Once more, we are building this fire using the “twig” method in order to represent a situation in which you may need fire without having store bought materials. Using a small ax and my khukuri knife, we cut down small tree limbs and collected three major types of twigs:

  • Thumb Size
  • Pencil Size
  • Pencil Lead Size

Remember– Try not to pull trees/sticks from the ground. Instead, look for standing deadwood that is dry, easy to break and lacks the moisture than any sticks laying on the ground would.

For tinder, we used a combination of dried grass an a featherstick.

 

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Step 2: Build Your Base

Start with the thickest twigs you have, and lay them flat in your pit, one after the other like you are laying down a log pile. Create a layer as large as you want your fire to be. Then use the next thickest, and cross hatch them in a new layer above your first. Continue this pattern until you get to the thinnest twigs, and finally place your tinder bundle on top.

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Step 3: Light The Tinder

For the sake of this attempt, we simply used a lighter, but I would recommend using whatever fire making material or method you have readily available in your EVERY DAY CARRY or at the very least, your backpacking/hiking essentials.

It might take a bit to get the tinder lit long enough that it begins to feed itself, which can be frustrating, but once the twigs light, this fire is capable of burning for hours on end.

Being down by a river on a muggy day, it took upwards of an hour to get our tinder lit long enough. We ended up adding some scraps of napkins we had brought along with us as well. The air was thick with whistles and squeals of the materials as they dried out, but once it got going, we were able to cook over it and enjoy its warmth until bed time.

This method was fairly frustrating for us due to the wet environment, however, it is often a reliable and low maintenance fire building method convenient for when you have additional tasks and chores to do, or you wish to keep your fire burning overnight while you sleep.

 

 

Gulf Stream/Scantic River Junction

Home for a few days before starting Ranger School, I managed to convince my brother to join me and my dad on a small excursion in my home town. Often we had passed by this stream on the way to work or school growing up, never having stopped it by.

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A lot of kayakers who mount up in Somersville Pond floated this way and under the roadway bridge. Since this area is right off the road, below the bridge, it was a little difficult to get down to. There was sort of a path, but it was largely overgrown and a wrong step could have landed you off the side and into the water. Given Connecticut’s massive tick population, bug spray was a must.

As usual within this area, we brought up quite a few yellow perch.

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I was using a small treble hook and a combination of either earth worms or mealworms, both which could be purchased from the local Somersville gas station.

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My brother managed to snag his first largemouth bass! Albeit, a dink, but a bass nonetheless. My mom wanted to come along, but having the two dogs with her, she was not in a position to bushwack down to the stream. So after only a little while of fishing here, my family was already urging me to head back to Somersville Pond. I had at least six or seven “last casts” or “one more casts” but not without a prize!

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On my very last cast, with a small treble hook and a mealworm, I managed to snag this trophy sized White Sucker fish. The hook fell off its fleshy lips as I was finessing it in, so I actually ended up with one foot in the stream, and hand wrangled the fatty ashore.

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Never seen a sucker this size, and I wish I had called DEEP to get the trophy certificate, but oh well. I let him go to swim another day.

After that, we headed back up to Somersville Pond and relaxed with the dogs there for the rest of the day.

Caught a few more perch, including my little brother’s first. Was really glad to be able to take him out fishing and show him the ropes.

You can just make it out on the photo on the right, but over the dam, we saw an absolutely massive alligator snapping turtle floating around. It was at least 4 feet long.

Love the multispecies fishing that the great North East offers, and can’t wait for my next trip up there.

Frenchman Bay with Island Charter Fishing

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Research on where to surf fish on the Mount Desert Island, Maine coast lead us to the conclusion that it was not worth it. Though you can catch some Atlantic Mackerel from the shore, the seasonal Stripers had skipped the area this year.

So instead, we decided to go out with the experts at Island Fishing Charters and take to Frenchman Bay via charter boat. It was highly affordable at only around 45$ per adult, with everything included– lines, poles, reels, rigs, the whole nine. The only part I found odd was that we did not use any bait. Instead, our hooks looked tied up similar to a fly.

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It was a cold, misty morning, so we were sure to pack a couple of ponchos and our warmest clothing. Sadly, Brook couldn’t come with us on this adventure. The boat took us out to various spots along the bay for us to drop our lines into. Some were active, some weren’t.

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First catch was a Pollock, which is a Cod family fish. We had a bucket to keep our catches in and so long as the fish was longer than the mouth of the bucket, they were keepers.

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The one exception to that was the Atlantic Cod. These fish around these waters remained protected, and had to be released upon catch.

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The scenery was absolutely beautiful on this trip. Above, those are a bunch of seals and their pups lounging around on Egg Rock Island. We saw some swimming around in the water as well. We were also lucky enough to have a group of porpoise decide to swim and dive along with our boat. If that wasn’t enough of a nature trip, a bald eagle sat atop an evergreen tree, took flight and swooped down to snatch a fish from the water with its talons. That’s not something you get to see every day!

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The last type of fish we caught was the Atlantic Mackerel. Really neat looking creatures, with their elaborate pattern on their back. They did not chirp like the mackerel we had caught in Korea with Chagui-do Bay Charter Fishing though!

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The views and the nature were amazing, and the staff was extremely helpful. Since the sea floor in this area is incredibly rocky and rugged, we did experience quite a few catastrophic snags that tore the entire rig away. The staff had ready made rigs to tie onto your pole in a few seconds, which was really convenient, that way we could continue fishing as much as possible. When this pleasant experience was at its end, we headed home with dinner.

IMG_20170818_192348_038We decided to keep only two Pollock and two Mackerel. The staff on the charter boat offered to clean the fish for us, and they used the same simple methods as seen in our How to Clean a Fish in Three Steps guide.

At that point, Dan the camp-chef took over and using simply butter, salt, pepper, and a pan, created a delicious flaky dish of both fish. We paired it with a classic Korean dish known as “budaejiggae” or “Army Stew” that includes salt, garlic, pepper paste, soy sauce, sugar, water, kimchi, beans, onions, and an array of different ingredients such as spam, vienna sausage, tofu,  noodles, rice and whatever veggies you want.

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The fishing trip was a lot of fun, and we got to see some beautiful parts of nature. I would certainly recommend this charter to anyone looking to go coastal fishing in Mount Desert Island or Bar Harbor. It put dinner on the table, that’s for sure.